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For 10,000 years the River Thames meandered from source to sea, periodically throwing up mudbanks or carving parallel channels on the bends and creating islands along much of its length. There are around 180 islands altogether, some accessible by footbridge, some by road and others, like Pharaoh's Island and Garrick’s Ait, only by boat. Thirty are inhabited by small settlements, single houses or houseboats, all highly sought-after locations today. Many are important nature reserves; others directly connected to major historical events or famous personalities. Oliver’s Eyot was a refuge for Oliver Cromwell during the English Civil War, whilst Lot’s Ait was the unlikely setting for Humphrey Bogart’s 1951 film The African Queen, and the legendry Eel Pie Island played a key role in the development of British popular music. These islands, known as Eyots or Aits, form the skeletal backbone of the Thames. In this fascinating and detailed book, Miranda Vickers considers their history and role in helping us understand how the river evolved.
Miranda Vickers grew up near the Thames. She studied at London University, gaining a Master’s Degree in Balkan History. During the Yugoslav Wars, she worked as a journalist in Kosovo and subsequently as an international an analyst and broadcaster on Albanian affairs. She lives close to the Thames and enjoys boating and walking its banks. Active in promoting awareness of environmental issues affecting the Thames, she also makes and exhibits collages using artefacts from the riverbed.